Improve your IELTS and TOEFL reading: One article a day. No excuses.

The Olympics in Brazil made me think about training. Sorry if this sounds a bit angry!

Your brian is a muscle.

You need to train it.

The reading section of the IELTS exam is the hardest section because you need to be well trained at reading and have a huge vocabulary.

Here’s the training.

Choose the first article from the fantastic Guardian Weekly, an international broadsheet.  https://www.theguardian.com/weekly

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One article a day. No excuses.

If you have a study partner. Get them to read it to and then TALK ABOUT it.

Read it in less than ten minutes.

Do not check all the words in the dictionary BUT if you feel there is an important word you should know then please do CHECK.

Do it everyday. No excuses.

but it’s boring…I have other work to do…I’m hungry…it’s late…I have to have some fun sometimes.

Success is your choice.

Please let me know how you get on!

For more help with your IELTS reading. Try Richard L King’s book.

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Big list of antonyms for academic English : IELTS and TOEFL

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Here’s a great list of academic antonyms to help you with your IELTS speaking and writing.

Lists are great, but how can you use them? Do you learn them? Do you just read them? What do you do? Read the advice below.

  1. Read through this list and circle 10-15 antonym pairs that you don’t know and learn them. Test yourself on them.
  2. Read through the list. Choose ten hard pairs you don’t know, print them off and stick them on your wall / toilet wall / fridge door – anywhere you will look, often
  3. Play a game with them like the awesome word frog game http://www.arcademics.com/games/frog/frog.html
  4. Play pelmanism. Choose ten you think are useful. Write them on small pieces of paper. Put them face down on a table. Now turn each one over and try to match the pairs.

antonyms.png

 


Improve your pronunciation, again – record an interview on your phone

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It’s hard to listen to your own voice when you are speaking. Use your mobile phone to record your voice while you interview yourself.

a)  Download or print out the worksheet below. Interview and record yourself on your mobile phone

worksheet.png

b) Read through the questions and practise what you are going to say. Add a couple more questions at the end.

c) Record your interview yourself on your mobile phone.

d) As you listen back to the recording, think about these things:

  • Was your pronunciation good. Were there any words you said badly or that didn’t sound correct?
  • Did you answer the questions completely?
  • Were you happy with the grammar you used?
  • Do you think you spoke too quickly or slowly?
  • What areas in your spoken English could you improve?

 


IELTS / Academic Reading skills – Survival Guide

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Here’s a lesson to help your IELTS / TOEFL / ESOL level 2 students get more practice in reading skills.

  1. Before students watch the  Bear Grylls video, have them discuss these questions in pairs.”Have you ever been to the desert? Where? When?” “What would you do if your car broke down in the desert fifty miles from anywhere?” Elicit their answers when they finish.

2. Explain that you are going to give students a top ten survival guide that they can put in their wallets and carry around with them. Print out a copy of 10 Survival Tips You Should Put In Your Wallet For Any Situation from toolbox.com by clicking the picture below. Survival guide

3. Put students into pairs, A and B. Explain that they are going to write some academic questions about the content. Have students A read section 1-5 and get students B to read 6-10. Give them ten minutes and each student must come up with questions for their content. Explain that  3 questions should be easy, 3 should be reasonably hard and 4 should be difficult. They should write:

  • 5 true / false / not given questions
  • 5 questions that can be answered in three words or less.

4. Get students to answer each other’s questions and then check the answers with each other.

5. IMPORTANT PART: Discuss with students how they found it when writing the questions – was it easy? Did they struggle to make them simple or tough? Did it help them understand how academic style tasks are written?

Apart from being a good academic reading task, the 10 survival reading tips are very interesting and are designed to fit into your wallet in case there is an apocalypse or something… they might come in handy one day…

For more help with IELTS reading, check out Richard L King’s epic, Teach Yourself IELTS reading here

TYIR

 

 

 

 

 


The top ten idioms in English – IELTS speaking!

 

 

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I’ve done no research on this and so, there is no way  I can be sure that these are the top ten idioms used in English.

Adding idioms to your spoken language will make you sound more natural and more like a native speaker. But PLEASE DON’T use them all the time!

Choose two or three idioms that you like and remember them. Use them at the right time and don’t try to force them into every sentence.

idioms chris speck3

 

Answers:

1.g 2.j 3.a 4.i 5.b 6.h 7.c 8.d 9. f 10.e

Check out Richard King’s book for more help with your IELTS exams!

TYIR


Reported Speech – a quick ppt to show your intermediate ESOL/EFL students

Here’s another one from the vaults, a good introduction or warmer for your ESOL or EFL class on reported speech.

Click here to download the ppt: reported_speech_arrange_the_sentences

There’s not much to say as it’s pretty straightforward. The first slide gets students to arrange the words into meaningful reported speech sentences (some of them have more than one possible answer). Once students have done this, get them to write the sentences down as they would be in direct speech as well.

The next ten slides all have pictures of people saying things that students can report back. Have them shout out the answers at you, write them down or even work with a partner or group to get them perfectly correct.

Here’s the ppt again https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/reported_speech_arrange_the_sentences.ppt

http://www.englishlanguagespacestation.com/


Guest Blog: David Clayton: SMARTphones: Student Motivation and Autonomy using Relevant Technology.

The purposes of the activities listed below are to increase students’ exposure to natural English, their autonomy, and their motivation. This will be achieved by the innovative use of familiar and valued technology, encouraging effective study skills and good practice, and by providing fun, meaningful, achievable activities using authentic materials.

A recent poll of my first year Japanese university classes revealed that just under ninety per cent of them use smart phones. According to Google, this number is set to increase throughout the world as smartphones become the most common method of accessing the internet (Google, 2011). I recently purchased a smartphone, too and was amazed by its user-friendliness, versatility and processing power (less so it’s battery life!). After a few weeks spent getting to know my new toy, I started to wonder if and how it could be used by my students to learn English. 

After consulting with my students, sharing app recommendations, and hints and tips, I came to the conclusion that although the use of phones in class is prohibited in many institutions (Shepherd, 2011), if teachers fail to at least acknowledge their existence, we will miss valuable educational opportunities. This becomes clear when we consider that smartphones are essentially high powered mini computers with broadband-speed internet access. Furthermore, many students are never without their smartphones: they eat with them, sleep with them, study with them and even take them into the bathroom. Smartphones are some university students’ most prized possessions; their owners are both extremely adept in their use and extremely interested in using them.

I am confident that institutional policies prohibiting smartphone use in class will disappear as administrators realize that students are willingly buying and maintaining their own state-of-the-art computing hardware at their own expense, and always bringing it to class. As such, smartphones are more than an inviting resource; as some groups have realised (DEB, 2011), they offer a golden opportunity to enrich students’ education at no cost to the institutions.

At present however, using smartphones in whole-class activities is not possible for many teachers and learners. For this reason I advocate encouraging students to use their smartphones outside the class to encounter natural English in meaningful – and even better, fun – ways. I hope your students enjoy the activities and resources recommended in the handout below, and that when they return with more ideas you will share them with me too.

10 great ideas for using your smartphone to learn and practice English.

  1. 1.    Install Kotoba! dictionary.

Lets you input words using all the standard methods (including drawing characters with your finger) and has example sentences to give context to the definitions. You can save the words you look up in specific list, or just look back through the history at all the words you have checked. (Review new words using Flashcards +, below). Does not require an internet connection after the initial download.

  1. 2.    Install Google Translate.

This will give you another source of information about new words and phrases. You can enter longer blocks of text to get the general meaning (do NOT rely on the translation to be 100% accurate). It has an audio function to help you with pronunciation, and a “large font” button that is very useful if you are showing someone else the translation. (Review new words using Flashcards +, below). Requires an internet connection.

  1. 3.    Install Flashcards+

This lets you create your own flashcards to review on the train etc. This is a very time-efficient method of learning new vocabulary. You can also download thousands of flashcard sets on many subjects from quizlet.com. Try searching for your English textbook and see what you find! Requires an internet connection.

When you find any new words doing activities 4-9 below, make sure you check their meaning and review them regularly using 1-3 above.

  1. 4.    Set your default language in the OS and apps you use the most to English.

It can be quite difficult to use the more advanced settings on your phone like this, so remember how to change them back!

  1. 5.    Buy graded readers from iTunes.

Several publishers now offer their graded readers as ebooks. Oxford Bookworms include a glossary, audio files and quizzes and are slightly cheaper than the paper versions. To find which level of reader you should read, go to a bookshop, open some graded readers at random and read a page. If there are more than two words that you don’t know per page, that level is too difficult for you. Choose a level which has only one or two new words on each page, then buy e-books from that level from your app store. Does not require an internet connection after the initial download.

  1. 6.    Join a Photo a Day Challenge for a month.

Go to http://fatmumslim.com.au/ and download the Photo A Day list, which shows one word for every day of the month. Your challenge is to take a picture each day that represents that word  and post them on your Facebook or Instagram page. This can be a lot of fun if you and some friends (or your whole class) do it together. Requires an internet connection.

  1. 7.    Follow foreign celebrities / sports people on Twitter.

With just 140 characters, most messages on Twitter are very simple. You can learn new abbreviations and slang this way, too. Requires an internet connection.

  1. 8.    Install Just Sayin’

This is similar to twitter, but focuses on audio. You can listen to native speakers’ messages and leave your own too. Try listening to a short message and trying to write it down word for word. If it is too fast or difficult, swipe across the track right to left to slow it down (swipe the other way to speed it up). Requires an internet connection.

  1. 9.    Install Draw Something

This is a fun game that you can play with strangers or friends. It will give you lots of vocabulary and dictionary practice, and drawing and looking at pictures will help you remember new words. (you can also add pictures to your flashcards). Requires an internet connection.

  1. 10.  Find programmes and materials to use on your phone.

Try entering the following keywords in your app store and see what you find: EFL, ESL, English Conversation. (You could try the British Council’s Learn English to get you started).

Dave Clayton is originally from England but has been teaching English in Japan for many years. He is currently a university lecturer and corporate trainer. His interests include vocabulary acquisition, bilingualism, teaching listening, Extensive Reading and English for Academic Purposes

References

Google, 2011, Mobile Internet & Smartphone Adoption, http://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/Final_Mobile_Internet_Smartphone_Adoption_Insights_2011v3.pdf

Nation, I.S.P., 2009, Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking, Routledge, London p.133-137.

Shepherd, J. 2011, Smartphones and handheld computers: the new battleground in UK schools. Guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/oct/30/smartphones-handheld-computers-battleground-schools?INTCMP=SRCH

DEB, 2011, Smartphones for schools. Digital Education Brighton.

 http://digitaleducationbrighton.org.uk/?cat=8


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